Exacerbated by the slumping economy, anemic job market and elevated foreclosure rate, grocery requests jumped by more than 80% from the previous year and the center’s client list has swelled to include longtime donors, Executive Director Barbara Howell said.
What’s more, the center’s aid to low-income residents with utility bills has more than doubled over the same period last year.
While the organization has kept pace with demand, buttressed this spring by nearly $50,000 from the city’s annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development annual allotment, food donations have not come in as rapidly as donations go out, and Howell is urgently in need of food by the pallet load.
Items requested include rice, pasta, canned meats, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, cereals, canned fruit and vegetables and canned soups. Donors are asked to refrain from giving open items, ramen noodles or specialty foods such as clam juice or coconut milk.
Toothpaste, deodorant and toiletries such as those found in Micalchuck’s shopping cart are also in great demand, said volunteer Paul Frantz.
“It’s wonderful that residents, businesses and the city is responding to the needs of the community,” Howell said in June. “The cash, too, is welcome and appreciated. This is a hard time for us with people away and I think the message is getting out there to people.”
A quick walk through the organization, which provides food, shower and laundry services to homeless clients in addition to low-income individuals and families, reveals a swath of empty milk crates waiting to be filled. The food is distributed to families based on their need under several programs. A wall chart spells out quantities to be passed out — 15 items for one person and 10 additional items per each additional family member up to six.
Out of necessity the center has purchased and stored dozens of cases of canned food from the government to help close the shortfall. Volunteers this weekend said the center still has a ways to go.
For more information call (818) 848-2822, or visit www.theBTAC.org.